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NEW YORK CITY-Wall Street’s uncertainty continues to show up on Main Street, with October comparable-store sales declining 0.9% from October 2007, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers Chain Store Sales Trends report. The drop marks the weakest October performance in more than 35 years, or as long as the report has collected data

If Wal-Mart’s results are excluded, the numbers are even worse, dropping 4.2%, the largest since that aggregate was compiled for November 1991. If drug stores were excluded, the overall index would have dropped 1.4%.

“The confluence of this worry about the economy and financial markets caused consumers to freeze most nonessential purchases in October,” wrote Michael P. Niemira, ICSC chief economist and director of research.

Not surprisingly, the luxury sector was hit particularly hard, dropping 19.2%. The teen sector also saw a decline, with a 10.9% drop. Department stores declined 10.9%, with Nordstrom reporting a 15.7% dive and J.C. Penney posting an 11.8% decline. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Wal-Mart’s discount store sales rose 2%, while Target saw a 4.8% fall and TJX a 6% decline.

Apparel stores dropped 11%, with Abercrombie & Fitch posting a 20% reduction, followed by Gap (down 16%) and Chico’s FAS (down 13.4%). Cato Corp., on the other hand, posted a 4% increase. Drug store comps rose 2.3%, wholesale clubs rose 1.6% (1.2% without fuel sales) and discounters saw a 0.5% increase.

The results do not bode well for the holidays. ICSC predicts same-store sales to be flat in November, and has lowered its holiday sales forecast to a 1% increase for the combined November-December period, the low end of its previous forecast.

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